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# Root Locus Method

Root Locus
Motivation
To satisfy transient performance requirements, it may be necessary to know how
to choose certain controller parameters so that the resulting closed-loop poles
are in the performance regions, which can be solved with Root Locus technique.

Definition
A graph displaying the roots of a polynomial equation when one of the
parameters in the coefficients of the equation changes from 0 to .

## Rules for Sketching Root Locus

Examples
Controller Design Using Root Locus
Letting the CL characteristic equation (CLCE) be the polynomial equation, one
can use the Root Locus technique to find how a positive controller design
parameter affects the resulting CL poles, from which one can choose a right
value for the controller parameter.

## The Root Locus Method

No matter what we pick K to be, the closed-loop system must always have n poles, where
n is the number of poles of G(s).
The root locus must have n branches, each branch starts at a pole of G(s) and goes to a
zero of G(s).
If G(s) has more poles than zeros (as is often the case), m < n and we say that G(s) has
zeros at infinity. In this case, the limit of G(s) as s -> infinity is zero.
The number of zeros at infinity is n-m, the number of poles minus the number of zeros,
and is the number of branches of the root locus that go to infinity (asymptotes).
Since the root locus is actually the locations of all possible closed loop poles, from the
root locus we can select a gain such that our closed-loop system will perform the way we
want. If any of the selected poles are on the right half plane, the closed-loop system will
be unstable. The poles that are closest to the imaginary axis have the greatest influence on
the closed-loop response, so even though the system has three or four poles, it may still
act like a second or even first order system depending on the location(s) of the dominant
pole(s).

Example

(CLCE)
Disturbance
Reference
Input

R(s)

Gf (s)

Error

E(s)

GC (s)

Control
Input

D(s)
++

U(s)

G(s)

Output
Y(s)

Plant

H(s)

## The closed-loop transfer function GYR(s) is:

GYR ( s )

G ( s )Gc ( s )G f ( s )
1 G ( s)Gc ( s) H ( s )

Img
.

## The closed-loop characteristic equation (CLCE) is:

1 G( s)Gc ( s) H ( s) 0

controller:
Gc ( s ) K p

1 K p GH 0

## The transient performance specifications define a region on the

complex plane where the closed-loop poles should be located.

Q:

## How should we choose KP such that the CL poles are within

the desired performance boundary?

Transient
Performance
Region

Real

Motivation
Ex: The closed-loop characteristic equation for the DC motor positioning system
under proportional control is:

1 K P K S G(s) 0

1 K P 0.03

16
0
s(0.0174s 1)

Q: How to choose KP such that the resulting closed-loop poles are in the
desired performance region?
How do we find the roots of the equation:
1 KP 0.03

16
0
s(0.0174s 1)

## as a function of the design parameter KP ?

Graphically display the locations of the closed-loop poles for all
KP>0 on the complex plane, from which we know the range of values
for KP that CL poles are in the performance region.

## Root Locus Definition

Root Locus is the method of graphically displaying the roots of a polynomial
equation having the following form on the complex plane when the parameter
K varies from 0 to :
N ( s)
1 K G(s) 0 or
1 K
0
D(s)
where N(s) and D(s) are known polynomials in factorized form:
N ( s) ( s - z1 )( s - z2 ) ( s - z NZ )
D( s) ( s - p1 )( s - p2 )

( s - pN P )

## Conventionally, the NZ roots of the polynomial N(s) , z1 , z2 , , zNz , are called

the finite open-loop zeros. The NP roots of the polynomial D(s) , p1 , p2 , ,
pNp , are called the finite open-loop poles.
Note: By transforming the closed-loop characteristic equation of a feedback
controlled system with a single positive design parameter K into the
above standard form, one can use the Root Locus technique to
determine the range of K that have CL poles in the performance region.

## Methods of Obtaining Root Locus

Given a value of K, numerically solve the 1 + K G(s) = 0 equation to obtain
all roots. Repeat this procedure for a set of K values that span from 0 to
and plot the corresponding roots on the complex plane.
In MATLAB, use the commands rlocus and rlocfind. A very efficient root
locus design tool is the command rltool. You can use on-line help to find
the usage for these commands.
1 KP 0.03

16
0
s(0.0174s 1)

1 KP

>> op_num=[0.48];
>> op_den=[0.0174 1 0];

0.48
0
0.0174s 2 s

No open-loop zeros
Two open-loop poles

>> rlocus(op_num,op_den);
>> [K, poles]=rlocfind(op_num,op_den);

Apply the following root locus sketching rules to obtain an approximated root
locus plot.

## Root Locus Sketching Rules

N ( s)
1 K
0
D( s)

1 K

( s - z1 )( s - z2 ) ( s - z NZ )
(s - p1 )( s - p2 ) ( s - pNP )

Rule 1: The number of branches of the root locus is equal to the number
of closed-loop poles (or roots of the characteristic equation). In
other words, the number of branches is equal to the number of
open-loop poles or open-loop zeros, whichever is greater. Ds KN s 0
Rule 2: Root locus starts at open-loop poles (when K= 0) and ends at
open-loop zeros (when K=). If the number of open-loop poles
is greater than the number of open-loop zeros, some branches
starting from finite open-loop poles will terminate at zeros at
infinity (i.e., go to infinity). If the reverse is true, some branches
will start at poles at infinity and terminate at the finite open-loop
zeros.
Ds KN s 0
K 0? K ?
Rule 3: Root locus is symmetric about the real axis, which reflects the
fact that closed-loop poles appear in complex conjugate pairs.
Rule 4: Along the real axis, the root locus includes all segments that are
to the left of an odd number of finite real open-loop poles and
zeros.
N s
Check the phases
K

D s

## Root Locus Sketching Rules

Rule 5: If number of poles NP exceeds the number of zeros NZ , then as K,
(NP - NZ) branches will become asymptotic to straight lines. These
straight lines intersect the real axis with angles k at 0 .

pi - zi

NP - NZ

k (2k 1)

## Sum of open-loop poles - Sum of open-loop zeros

# of open-loop poles - # of open-loop zeros

80
[deg] , k 0, 1, 2,
NP - NZ
NP - NZ

above.

## Rule 6: Breakaway and/or break-in (arrival) points should be the solutions to

the following equations:
d N ( s)
d D( s )

0 or

0
ds D( s)
ds N ( s)

## Root Locus Sketching Rules

Rule 7: The departure angle for a pole pi ( the arrival angle for a zero zi) can be
calculated by slightly modifying the following equation:

angle
criterion

## (s - z1 ) (s - z2 ) (s - zNZ ) - (s - p1 ) - (s - p2 ) - - (s - pNp ) 180

The departure angle qj from the pole pj can be calculated by replacing the
term ( s - p j ) with qj and replacing all the ss with pj in the other terms.

Rule 8: If the root locus passes through the imaginary axis (the stability boundary),

follows:

## Replace s in the left side of the closed-loop characteristic equation

with j to obtain the real and imaginary parts of the resulting
complex number.
Set the real and imaginary parts to zero, and solve for and K. This
will tell you at what values of K and at what points on the j axis the
roots will cross.
magnitude criterion

s - p1 s - p2

s - pN P

s - z1 s - z2

s - zN z

## Steps to Sketch Root Locus

Step 1: Transform the closed-loop characteristic equation into the standard form
for sketching root locus:
1 K

( s - z1 )( s - z2 ) ( s - z NZ )
N ( s)
0 or 1 K
0
D( s)
( s - p1 )( s - p2 ) ( s - pNP )

Step 2: Find the open-loop zeros, zi, and the open-loop poles, pi. Mark the openloop poles and zeros on the complex plane. Use to represent open-loop
poles and to represent the open-loop zeros.
Step 3: Determine the real axis segments that are on the root locus by applying
Rule 4.
Step 4: Determine the number of asymptotes and the corresponding intersection
0 and angles k by applying Rules 2 and 5.
Step 5: (If necessary) Determine the break-away and break-in points using Rule 6.
Step 6: (If necessary) Determine the departure and arrival angles using Rule 7.
Step 7: (If necessary) Determine the imaginary axis crossings using Rule 8.

Step 8: Use the information from Steps 1-7 and Rules 1-3 to sketch the root locus.

Example 1
DC Motor Position Control
In the previous example on the printer paper advance position control, the proportional control
block diagram is:

0.03

DV

KP
Controller

Ei

16
s(0.0174s 1)

Plant G(s)
0.03

Sketch the root locus of the closed-loop poles as the proportional gain KP varies from 0 to .

## Find closed-loop characteristic equation:

1 K pG s H s 0
0.48
1 Kp

N s

s 0.0174 s 1
D s

Example 1
Step 1: Transform the closed-loop characteristic equation into the standard form for
sketching root locus:

1
1 27.58 K p

N s

s s 57.47

D s

## Step 2: Find the open-loop zeros, zi , and the open-loop poles, pi :

No open-loop zeros
open-loop poles

p1 0, p2 -57 .47

Step 3: Determine the real axis segments that are to be included in the root locus by
applying Rule 4.

p2 -57.47

p1 0

Example 1
Step 4: Determine the number of asymptotes and the corresponding intersection 0
and angles k by applying Rules 2 and 5.
0

- zi

NP - NZ

-57.47
-28.74
2

k (2k 1)

NP

- NZ

Step 5: (If necessary) Determine the break-away and break-in points using Rule 6.
d N ( s)
d D( s)
0 or
0,

ds D ( s )
ds N ( s )
d s 0.0174 s 1

0,0.0348s 1 0, s -28.74
ds
0.48

Step 6: (If necessary) Determine the departure and arrival angles using Rule 7.
-( p2 - p1 ) - p2 180 , p2 0
- p1 - ( p1 - p2 ) 180 , p1 180

Step 7: (If necessary) Determine the imaginary axis crossings using Rule 8.
Could s be pure imaginary in this example?

Example 1
Step 8: Use the information from Steps 1-7 and Rules 1-3 to sketch the root locus.

Img. Axis
30

20

10
-57.47

Real Axis

-60

-28.74
-50

-40

-30

0
-20

-10

0
-10

-20

-30

Example 2
A positioning feedback control system is proposed. The corresponding block diagram
is:
R(s) +
K(s + 80)
-

U(s)

Controller

16
s(0.0174s 1)

Y(s)

Plant G(s)

Sketch the root locus of the closed-loop poles as the controller gain K varies from 0 to
.
Find closed-loop characteristic equation:

1 Gc s G s H s 0
1 K s 80

16
0
s 0.0174 s 1

Example 2
Step 1: Formulate the (closed-loop) characteristic equation into the standard form
for sketching root locus:
16 s 80
1 K

N s

s 0.0174 s 1

K
1 920 K

D s

s 80
N s

s s 57.47

D s

## Step 2: Find the open-loop zeros, zi , and the open-loop poles, pi :

open-loop zeros

z1 -80

open-loop poles

p1 0, p2 -57 .47

Step 3: Determine the real axis segments that are to be included in the root locus
by applying Rule 4.

z1 -80 p2 -57.47

p1 0

Example 2
Step 4: Determine the number of asymptotes and the corresponding intersection 0 and
angles k by applying Rules 2 and 5.

Step 5: (If necessary) Determine the break-away and break-in points using Rule 6.
d N ( s)
d D( s)
0 or
0,

ds D( s )
ds N ( s )

d s 80

ds s s 57.47

s s 57.47 - s 80 2 s 57.47

s 2 160s 4600 0
s1 -122, s2 -37.6

s s 57.47

0,

Example 2
Step 6: (If necessary) Determine the departure and arrival angles using Rule 7.
Step 7: (If necessary) Determine the imaginary axis crossings using Rule 8.
Step 8: Use the information from Steps 1-7 and Rules 1-3 to sketch the root locus.
Imag Axis
40
30
20
10
Real Axis

## z1 -80 p2 -57.47 -37.6

-122

p1 0

0
-10
-20
-30
-40

-140

-120

-100

-80

-60

-40

-20

Example 3
A feedback control system is proposed. The corresponding block diagram is:
R(s) +
-

K
( s 4)
Controller

U(s)

1
Y(s)
2
s(s 4s 20)
Plant G(s)

Sketch the root locus of the closed-loop poles as the controller gain K varies from
0 to .
Find closed-loop characteristic equation:

1 Gc s G s H s 0
1

K
1
0
s 4 s s 2 4 s 20

Example 3
Step 1: Transform the closed-loop characteristic equation into the
standard form for sketching root locus:
1
1 K

N s

s s 4 s 20 s 4
2

D s

## Step 2: Find the open-loop zeros, zi , and the open-loop poles, pi :

open-loop zeros
open-loop poles

No open-loop zeros

p1 0, p2 -4, p3,4 -2 4 j

## Step 3: Determine the real axis segments that are to be included in

the root locus by applying Rule 4.
p2 -4

p1 0

Example 3

Step 4: Determine the number of asymptotes and the corresponding intersection 0 and
angles k by applying Rules 2 and 5.
0

- zi

NP - NZ

k (2k 1)

NP

0 -4 -2 4 j -2 - 4 j
-2
4-0

- NZ

3
4

5
4
7

Step 5: (If necessary) Determine the break-away and break-in points using Rule 6.
d N ( s)
d D( s)
0 or
0,

ds D( s )
ds N ( s )

2
d D s d s s 4 s 20 s 4 d 4
s 8s 3 36s 2 80s

ds
ds N s ds
1

4 s 3 24 s 2 72 s 80 0

## s1 -2, s2,3 -2 2.45 j

Example 3
Step 6: (If necessary) Determine the departure and arrival angles using Rule 7.
Np

Nz

( s - z ) - ( s - p ) 180
i

i 1

i 1

p1 0 :

p 180

p2 -4 :

p 0

p3 -2 4 j :
p4 -2 - 4 j :

p -90
3

p 90
4

Step 7: (If necessary) Determine the imaginary axis crossings using Rule 8.

1 K

1
0
2
s s 4 s 20 s 4

s j

s s 2 4s 20 s 4 K 0
s 4 8s3 36s 2 80s K 0

- 362 K -83 80 j 0
4 - 36 2 K 0 K1 0
K2 260

,
3

1
-8 80 0
2 10 3.16
4

CLCE

Example 3
Step 8: Use the information from Steps 1-7 and Rules 1-3 to sketch the root locus.
Imag Axis

4
3
2
1
Real Axis

0
-1
-2
-3

-4
-6

-5

-4

-3

-2

-1

Example 4
A feedback control system is proposed. The corresponding block diagram is:
R(s) +
-

U(s)

K
Controller

Y(s)
s 2 2s 101
(s 2)(s 2 2s 26)
Plant G(s)

Sketch the root locus of the closed-loop poles as the controller gain K varies from 0 to
.
Find closed-loop characteristic equation:

s 2 2 s 101
1 K
0
2
s 2 s 2s 26

Example 4
Step 1: Formulate the (closed-loop) characteristic equation into the standard
form for sketching root locus:
2
s
2s
101

1 K

N s
2

s 2s 2s 26

Ds

open-loop zeros
open-loop poles

## s 2 2s 101 s 1 100 0, z1, 2 -1 10 j

2

s 2s 12 25 0, p1 -2, p2,3 -1 5 j

Step 3: Determine the real axis segments that are to be included in the root
locus by applying Rule 4.

p1 -2

Example 4
Step 4: Determine the number of asymptotes and the corresponding intersection 0 and angles k
by applying Rules 2 and 5.

N p - Nz 1

One asymptote

k 2k 1 180 180

Step 5: (If necessary) Determine the break-away and break-in points using Rule 6.
Step 6: (If necessary) Determine the departure and arrival angles using Rule 7.
o
-1
o
o
o
z1 -1 10 j z1 90 - tan 10 - 90 - 90 180

z 354 -6
o

p1 -2

p 180o

p2 -1 5 j

p 11o

p3 -1 - 5 j

z2 -1 - 10 j 6o
z2

p -11o
2

Step 7: (If necessary) Determine the imaginary axis crossings using Rule 8.

s 2s 2 2s 26 K s 2 2s 101 0
s 3 4 K s 2 30 2 K s 52 101K 0
s j

52 101K - 4 K 2 30 2 K - 2 j 0
2
0

2 9.5 3 5.7
52 101K - 4 K 0 1

,
52 ,

2
K

30.4

30

2
K

2
K3 1.1
1

101

Example 4
Step 8: Use the information from Steps 1-7 and Rules 1-3 to sketch the root locus.
10

9.5273j

Stability condition

- 6o

0 K 1.1z1

5.6658j

or
K 30.4

0 K 1.1

p 11o
2

or
K 30.4

-2

-4

-5.6658j

-6

p -11o
2

-8

-9.5273j
-10
-18

-16

-14

-12

-10

-8

-6

-4

-2

z 6o
2

## Root Locus as an Analysis/Design Tool

Mechanical system response depends on the location of the system characteristic values,
i.e., poles of the system transfer function. Since root locus tells us how the system poles
vary w.r.t. a parameter K, we can use root locus to analyze the effect of parameter
variation on system performance.
A

## Ex: ( Motion Control of Hydraulic Cylinders )

Recall the example of the flow control of a hydraulic
cylinder that takes into account the capacitance effect of
the pressure chamber. The plant transfer function is:

G( s )

M
B

V ( s)
A

## where M is the mass of the load; C is the flow capacitance

of the pressure chamber; A is the effective area of the
piston and B is the viscous friction coefficient.
Q: How would the plant parameters affect the system
response ?

qIN

## Root Locus as an Analysis/Design Tool

Effect of load (M) on system performance:
System characteristic equation:

MCs2 BCs A2 0
Transform characteristic equation into standard form for root locus analysis by identifying the parameter
that is to be varied. In this case, the load mass M is the varying parameter:

Standard form

N s
1 K
0
D s

1 M

C
BC

s2
N s

A2
s
BC

0
Img. Axis

D s

Varying parameter
open-loop zeros
open-loop poles

z1 z2 0
A2
p1 BC

d N ( s)
2 A2
0s ,s 0
ds D( s )
BC

p1

z1 , z2

Real
Axis

## Small M: less overshoot and high natural frequency

As M increases: larger overshoot and lower natural frequency

## Root Locus as an Analysis/Design Tool

Effect of flow capacitance (C) on system performance:
System characteristic equation:

MCs2 BCs A2 0

Transform characteristic equation into standard form for root locus analysis by identifying the parameter
that is to be varied. In this case, the flow capacitance C is the varying parameter:

Standard form

1 K

N s
0
D s

ss

1 C

Varying parameter

M
A2

N s

Img. Axis

D s

B
z

0,
z

2
open-loop zeros 1
M

d N ( s)
B
0s

ds D ( s )
2M

## Smaller C (or less compressible fluid):

Larger oscillating frequency and overshoot
Larger C: smaller oscillating frequency and overshoot

z2

z1

Real
Axis

## Root Locus as an Analysis/Design Tool

Effect of friction (B) on system performance:
System characteristic equation:

MCs2 BCs A2 0

Transform characteristic equation into standard form for root locus analysis by identifying the parameter
that is to be varied. In this case, the viscous friction coefficient B is the varying parameter:

Standard form

C
N s
N s
1

B
2
1 K
0
A
MC
2
D s
s

MC

Varying parameter
open-loop zeros
open-loop poles

D s

0
Img. Axis

z1 0
p1,2

p1

A2
j
MC

d D( s )
A2

ds N ( s )
MC

z1

Smaller B:
Larger oscillating frequency and overshoot
p2

settling time?

Real
Axis